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Anastasia Kerr-German, Ph.D.

Anastasia Kerr-German, Ph.D.



I received my B.S. in psychological sciences from Georgia College & State University in 2014, going to receive my M.A. in Experimental Psychology with a concentration in Developmental Psychology in 2016. I then received my Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology with a concentration in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience in 2019. I completed my post-doctoral training in 2020 at Boys Town National Research Hospital under the supervision of Dr. Karla McGregor in the CCDLL and training through the Neurobehavioral Research Group at Boys Town Hospital. Currently, I am faculty in the CCDLL, directing the B.E.A.R. Lab.

The B.E.A.R. lab focuses on the investigation of attention, executive functioning, and the neural mechanisms underlying developmental change in cognitive and linguistic outcomes in young children. Namely, we are interested in the development of disorders such as ADHD in toddlers and young children, prior to the age of diagnosis in order to map the ontogeny of these disorders prior to the feasibility of diagnosing in these groups. To address these goals, I have developed a two-pronged program of research on attention and executive function with two primary foci. The first is to establish methods allowing the measurement of these processes in children younger than 6 years of age so that we can translate and scale tasks across developmental timelines (e.g., Buss & Kerr-German, 2019; Kerr-German, Buss, et al., 2022; Kerr-German & Buss, 2020). The second is to understand the atypical development of these processes among children at risk for neurodevelopmental disorders (Kerr‐German et al., 2022; Kerr-German, Buss, et al., 2022; Kerr-German et al., 2022). Focus 1 of my research program is critical for addressing the “toddler data desert", a phrase I have coined to describe the lack of neurobehavioral research on attention and executive functioning in children ages 18-30 months old. fNIRS in combination with other methods now allows us to probe this age group successfully to address mechanistic questions concerning the development of these processes as they relate to both the brain and behavior. Focus 2 is a necessary parallel to Focus 1. To better understand typical and atypical development we should study them together. As I develop new methods and tasks that prove successful at scaling for developmental appropriateness in toddlers through the preschool years, I then translate them to risk populations to test my hypotheses about how neural and behavioral development is altered in these children within the same paradigms. This allows us to simultaneously push theory and practice forward for all children.  

One major difference between these two foci is that Focus 1 aims to improve methods for very young children (i.e., 2-5-year-olds) while Focus 2 applies these methodological innovations to test mechanisms in populations where deficiencies or developmental divergence is expected. I more recently have begun adding in new clinical populations, namely DLD, as well as additional age groups (12-24 month-olds and 6-8 year-olds) to my existing line of research in order to 1) allow me to further dive into the mechanisms I am exploring in typically developing children by giving me an additional age groups and clinical outcomes to consider and 2) provide a closely related parallel population for comparison to my risk-for-ADHD group, while also considering earlier detectible risk factors (i.e., late talkers) to address instances where these disorders are comorbid.

Select Publications:

Neural Mechanisms Underlying Differences in Attention, Inhibitory Control, and Executive Functioning in Typically Developing Children ages 2- to 5-years-old

Kerr-German, A.N., Namuth, A., Santosa, H., Buss, A.T., & White, S. (2022). To snack or not to snack: Using fNIRS to link inhibitory control to functional connectivity in the toddler brain. Developmental Science, e13229. [PMID: 35005833, epub ahead of print]

Kerr-German, A.N. & Buss, A.T. (2020). Exploring the neural basis of selective and flexible dimensional attention: An fNIRS study. Journal of Cognition and Development, 21(3), 313-325. [PMCID: PMC7522711]

Buss, A.T. & Kerr-German, A.N. (2019). Dimensional attention as a mechanism of executive function: Integrating flexibility, selectivity, and stability. Cognition, 192, 104003. [PMCID: PMC6732247]

Defenderfer, J., Kerr-German, A.N., Hedrick, M., & Buss, A.T. (2017). Investigating the role of temporal lobe activation in speech perception accuracy with normal hearing adults: An event-related fNIRS study. Neuropsychologia, 106, 31-41. [PMID: 28888891, PMC – N/A]

Select Works Under Review or in Prep:

Kerr-German, A.N., Tas, C., & Buss, A.T. Examining the relationship between oculomotor and manual measures of attention in toddlers via fNIRS: Towards Addressing the Toddler Data Desert in Attention Research. Manuscript Under Review.

Kerr-German. A.N., Santosa, H., Buss, A.T., White, S., & Doucet, G. Assessing

the relationship between risk for ADHD and functional connectivity in toddlers. Manuscript Under Review.

Kerr-German, A. N., Namuth, A., Mohammad, S., Tuman, J., Gordan, C., & White, S. Proposing a unified profile of trait characteristics, neural connectivity, and task performance in children ages 2 to 5-years old with parental risk for ADHD. Manuscript in Prep.

Kerr-German, A. N., AuBuchan, A., & McCreery, R. A Time Series Approach to Conceptualizing the Role of Attentional Processing for Active Suppression to Background Noise in Healthy Adults via fNIRS. Manuscript in Prep.